Harvestman / Minsk / U.S. Christmas

Hawkwind Triad

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Two psychedelic/stoner metal bands and one of the members of long-running "post-metal" act Neurosis join forces on this album to pay tribute to legendary early-'70s space rock act Hawkwind. While Hawkwind were primarily a U.K. and European phenomenon in their prime, and for years were mostly known here as the band that fired Lemmy Kilmister, thus freeing him up to start Motörhead, their recorded legacy -- at least from 1971's In Search of Space through 1976's Warrior on the Edge of Time, and definitely including the double live album Space Ritual, which writer Joe Carducci called "a viable substitute for actually getting wasted yourself" -- is an astonishing blend of thunderous garage riffing, endless-boogie rhythm section work, swirling synths, and heavily effected saxophone. This disc kicks off with U.S. Christmas churning through "Master of the Universe" in a manner that's equal parts Nebula and Monster Magnet, and that's pretty much how each of their four contributions (which also include "Psychedelic Warlords," "Orgone Accumulator," and "You Shouldn't Do That") shape up. Harvestman, a solo project of Neurosis co-leader Steve Von Till, goes in the opposite direction on versions of "D Rider," "Down Through the Night," "The Watcher," and "Magnu," with no rhythm section at all -- it's all strummed acoustic guitar over an ocean of bubbling, whooshing synths, emphasizing Hawkwind's spacefaring side and ignoring their concussive power. Chicago's Minsk split the difference. Their own albums combine a drifting psychedelia with tribal percussion and metallic roar, and that's the approach they take to "7x7," "Assault and Battery/The Golden Void," and "Children of the Sun." They're also the only group to feature a saxophone on any of their tracks. Ultimately, U.S. Christmas sound the most like Hawkwind, but Minsk do the most to bring these songs into the 21st century, while Harvestman's enervated approach is recommended strictly to Scott Kelly fans.

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